Spoiler level: minor. (Also, I know I said I was off on a blog break. But c’mere, I’m only human. Flesh and blood and a burning need to talk about Holtzmann. The break starts tomorrow, right?)
Jillian Holtzmann. Jillian. Fucking. Holtzmann. The queerest thing I’ve seen on screen since I recruited my friends to help me move my furniture. And yet, I keep hearing that there’s some kind of ambiguity to her. That she’s not out. That there’s something coy about her presentation.
Really? Really? Let’s sit ourselves down and have a look at this, shall we?
It’s midsummer here in Ireland. The sun is shining rain is falling a little warmer than in December. And I? I’m going to abandon you all to the mists of July, fish my tent out of the cupboard and take a break.
But don’t you worry. I’ll be back. And while you won’t be seeing any new posts until early August, I’ll be working hard behind the scenes, like a duck serenely floating along the lake and paddling like there’s no tomorrow under the water.
Probably about as damp as the duck as well, come to think of it. Have I mentioned that it rains all summer in this country?
I need to change how I do blogging. I’ve been doing this since 2010. I’m not sure whether I do this out of love or a deep seated masochism. Probably a bit of both, if I’m fair. But while I’ve been at this for six long years, it’s never been an organised operation. You could say that I’ve been blogging by the seat of my pants and the skin of my teeth. I’ll write three or four posts in a week and then disappear for weeks on end. That’s not good enough any more.
It’s time to streamline this baby.
While I’m away, I’ll still be working- writing and drafting, researching and scheduling posts so that I can guarantee regular updates even when I’m up the walls with college assignments. I’ve got a stack of topics months (possibly years) deep that I want to share with you, and the only way I’ll get them done is to step way, way back from the hamster wheel of posting about whatever godawful thing has happened this week
My life is about to get turned upside-down. Inside-out. I’ve got about six weeks to go until I pack up my life and move country to go back to college in a town that I’ve never yet set foot in.
I’m a little bit excited about that, by the way. These last few years have often felt a little hopeless. I’ve felt like my life has been somehow on hold- working in jobs that can’t go anywhere, barely making the rent. Not knowing if I’ll ever get out of that cycle. I know that I’m not the only person feeling that way. I also know that I’ve been lucky and privileged in innumerable ways.
Returning to college? It’s a dream come true that I thought had been taken away years ago. And this course will have me living on two new countries- Denmark and Germany- over the next two years. Living in two cities I’ve never gotten to see before. Meeting people from all over the world. It’s hard to believe I’m this lucky, and I can’t wait to share it all with you.
Of course, this ain’t my first rodeo. I know that a full-time two-year MA is gonna be tough. If I want to avoid all-nighters- and I really do, since my twenties faded into the distance years ago- I’ve got to be organised about this. If I want this blog to stay a part of what I do? It’s time to plan. To draft. To schedule. To chuck the seat of my pants and the skin of my teeth into the trash and blog like the goddamn grown-up I am.
Oh yeah. \m/
And in the meantime? I’ve got six weeks to sort my life out, pack everything up, and spend as much time with my friends and family as I possibly can. I’ll be working, I’ll be visiting my BFF, I’ll be packing my schedule with coffee and pints and hugs and visits and drinking up every precious second with my loved ones before I head away for the year.
And in between, I’ll be brainstorming, researching, drafting, and scheduling.
Cut to the chase, Aoife. What can we expect?
Between now and the second week in August (unless something happens that I can’t resist talking about), I won’t be publishing any new posts here. I will be reposting old articles that feel relevant and timely. I’ve got six years of work buried in here!
I’ll also almost certainly be active on my public social media accounts when I’m not in a field with nothing to charge my gadgets on. If you don’t already follow me on Twitter and Facebook– why on earth not? If you want to see my tent-putting-up skillz or what I’ve been having for lunch, I’m around on Instagram a fair bit too. Say hi!
I’m also willing to take submissions for guest posts while I’m away. If you’re interested in writing one, send me a message on my Facebook page, or email me- it’s the title of this blog at gmail dot com. All submissions are subject to fitting within the ethos of both the Orbit and Consider the Tea Cosy, of course. Let me know if you’ve an idea, and we’ll talk.
When I return? I’ll have new plans, new schedules, and hopefully a few surprises up my sleeves.
Let’s clear some things up. Since it seems like people didn’t quite get the memo the first time.
If you aren’t familiar with the situation, please read my initial post on what happened on Saturday first. The tl;dr (although please do read it) is that my friend AB Silvera was denied boarding on a flight last Saturday because she is trans. The airline have not made things right.
Let’s go on to the clarification part, because some people are under the impression that what happened to her wasn’t blatant transphobia.
Transphobic Discrimination Detection Is Not Complicated.
Want to know if someone has been discriminated against? It’s actually pretty straightforward. You do not need to ask:
Does this person/organisation hate trans people?
Did anyone intend to do something bigoted?
Is the person/organisation who did the thing a Bad Person overall, and do they feel deep within themselves that they’re not A Transphobe?
Did the person or organisation deny that their actions were transphobic?
These questions are irrelevant. They don’t matter. Air Transat tweeted a bunch of times about their non-discrimination policy. However, if AB Silvera were cis, this would not have happened to her. Air Transat probably didn’t design their screening policies to specifically harm trans people- actually, I’ll bet that they didn’t think about trans people at all when they did so. It doesn’t matter. If AB were cis, this would not have happened to her.
Let’s take those points:
It doesn’t matter if someone hates trans people or not. If they perform an action that harms someone because they’re trans, that action is discriminatory. The feelings of the person performing the action don’t change the reality of that action.
It doesn’t matter if someone intends to do something bigoted or not. I have never once in my life intended to stub my toe on something. I still do it regularly and let me tell you, it still hurts like nobody’s business. If you aren’t looking where you’re going and you walk into someone? You’ve still knocked their coffee out of their hand. Just apologise and buy them a damn coffee already.
Let’s just accept that all of us are complex mixes of positive and negative traits, k? Let’s even accept that sometimes we’re having a good day and sometimes we’re having a crap day and we take it out on people. Hardly anyone is a 100% Good Person, and hardly any of us are 100% Bad People. People do great things. They do shitty things. Give credit for the good stuff, and make up for the bad stuff. Adulting 101, right?
People deny doing bad stuff all the time. Of course they do. “It wasn’t me” is almost a reflex for a lot of people, especially if you’re worried about getting in trouble or if you think the problem can go away if you can find a plausible excuse for it.
To determine if something is transphobic, there is only one question you need to ask: would this situation happen to a cis person? If the answer is no, then- ding!- you have transphobic discrimination.
Here are things that wouldn’t have happened to AB if she were cis:
She would not have had to bring a folder full of documents with her– passport, gender certificate, another form of ID to confirm that she’s the person in the gender cert (which by coincidence is also a passport) when she flew. I’m cis. I don’t have to do that.
Her passport- which has two years to go before it’s out of date- would not have been denied because she looks different to how she did back in 2008. I’m cis. Back when my last passport was coming up on 10 years old, I was in an LDR. I flew every few weeks. In the ten years I’d had that passport I changed from being a scrawny 19-year-old with a buzzcut who looked barely pubescent, to a several-stone heavier 29 year-old with curly hair almost to my shoulders. I looked different. But when we’re cis, it’s accepted that years will change us. If this wasn’t acceptable, we wouldn’t be able to get ten-year passports.
Don’t believe me? Here’s what I looked like a year or so after I got my passport (it’s the oldest pic I can find, so take a year or two off that face):
And here’s me in the last year that I had that passport:
Notice a difference? So do I. I look really different. But because I’m cis, it doesn’t matter. Even though my gender presentation had changed a whole lot. That’s cis privilege (specifically the AFAB kind) right there- I can even change the gendered ways I look any way I like and airline agents pay it no mind.
Of course, airline agents are used to that. Most people’s passports are relatively old. Everyone looks a bit different to their picture. It’s no big deal. As long as you’re cis.
She would not have been misgendered by airline staff. And if she had? They would have apologised and not done it again. How do I know this? Look at that top picture. That person? Got “he” all the time. A buzzcut and no boobs will do that. Especially in the winter when I was bundled up in great big coats. But the second I corrected people, they almost always apologised and then used the right pronouns. Why? Because I’m cis.
Time To Correct Some Misconceptions.
Did AB Have The Correct Documents?
Yes. She did. She was carrying a valid Italian passport in her name. She was also carrying the required document for an Italian citizen to get into Canada: a valid ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization). Those two, along with her ticket, should have been all that she needed to get on her flight.
However, she knew that she might need something to confirm her gender. This is not unique to travelling over this particular border: trans people are often questioned as to their gender, especially by officials. Knowing this- and having experienced it many times before- she brought along documents that clarify the situation.
AB has dual citizenship in Argentina and Italy. As it’s a lot easier to update your gender markers in Argentina than it is in Italy, she also had the Argentinian document confirming her updated gender- a sworn affidavit with a legalised translation. She brought Argentinian photo ID with her along with this affidavit.
The fact that the Argentinian photo ID she had with her was a passport is irrelevant. She wasn’t bringing it in order to cross a border. She was simply using it to confirm that she is the person who the affidavit refers to.
I’m not going to post you the photo of the two passports. I don’t post pre-transition photos of people. So you’re gonna have to take my word for this one: she is recognisable. Does she look different? Sure. But especially if you know (and if you’re an official: if you have valid confirmation) that she has had a bunch of estrogen since then? It’s blatantly obvious that she’s the same person.
AB had the documents she needed.
dual citizenship and Passports
If you have dual citizenship and multiple passports, who gets to choose which one you travel under?
You do. Dual citizenship, as I’ve mentioned already, gives you all of the rights and responsibilities of both of your citizenships.
Think of it this way: AB is an Italian citizen. Nothing else about her takes that citizenship away. Not the fact that she lives in the UK- she’s an Italian citizen in the UK. Not the fact that she’s trans. And not the fact that, entirely separate to her Italian citizenship, she also happens to be a citizen of another country. If that was the case, dual citizenship would be an impossibility. This isn’t theoretical: some countries don’t allow their people to have dual citizenships. Italy and Argentina aren’t in that category. Both allow multiple citizenship.
Who can take away your rights as a citizen of a country? The only way I can find to lose your Italian citizenship against your will is to go work for a country they’re at war with. And- let’s be clear- even if AB was off to go work for the government in a country that Italy had started a war with this morning, Air Transat’s staff’s authority isn’t up to the job.
AB is an Italian citizen. Her Italian citizenship gives her the right to travel to Canada with an eTA, no visa required. Her Argentinian citizenship does not affect this, regardless of how close to her person her Argentinian passport is at the time.
When you have multiple passports, the choice to travel under one or the other is at your discretion. Nobody else’s.
Why couldn’t she just update her Italian passport?
Here’s something that a lot of you cis people out there might not get: depending on where you live, changing gender markers can be complicated. Particularly if you live on the other side of the continent to the country where you need your documents changed.
In some countries it’s more than complicated: it’s impossible. In Italy it’s not impossible. It’s just, as AB has found out, a labyrinthine bureaucratic mess.
It’s not a matter of just popping down to the local office, filling out the green form and handing over fifty quid for someone to stamp the thing and send you the updated document. This is a process that can take time- especially if you live far away. AB has been working on getting her documents changed. It’s been incredibly difficult:
I will update it but it’s very hard. Italian consulate in Edinburgh. laughed at me when I tried last time. And yet I’m v attached to it.
The expectation that AB “simply” update her gender markers on her Italian passport and get a more recent picture is not a reasonable one. It also assumes that she hasn’t been working hard to do just that, and that there aren’t massive obstacles in her way. She has. There are.
Say it again for the people in the back
What happened to AB?
She went to the airport. She had all the documents she required with her. When she went to the gate she was misgendered repeatedly and told that she should “travel as a man” in future. She was denied her right as an Italian citizen to use her Italian passport along with an eTA to travel to Canada.
Remember this: there is only one question you need to ask to ascertain if an action or experience constituted transphobic discrimination. Would this have happened if she were cis?
Of course it wouldn’t.
What happens now?
AB has stillnot been compensated for this abysmal, discriminatory treatment by Air Transat. She also hasn’t been able to get a flight to where she needs to go.
But it’s not- quite- too late. When this happened, AB and her girlfriend were travelling to the US via Canada to go to a wedding. (To add insult to injury, by the way? This was also to be their anniversary trip and would have been the first time AB met her girlfriend’s family in person. Yeah. Chew on that one.) That wedding hasn’t happened yet.
Air Transat can still make this right. What they need to do?
Get AB and her girlfriend on a flight, like, immediately.
Compensate her for leaving her stranded for three days (and counting) and for the upset they caused her.
Train their staff in dealing with trans customers in a dignified and respectful way.
Apologise. Publicly. And mean it.
They won’t make this happen without pressure. Air Transat are trying to sweep this under the rug, despite days of pressure. We need to increase this. And we need to do it now, ’cause I dunno about you but I want AB and her girlfriend to get to that wedding, I want AB to get to meet her girlfriend’s family, and I want it to happen this week.
If you live in Scotland or Canada, contact your local MP and ask them to intervene.
If you have access to a larger media platform, or know someone who does? Tell them about this and ask them to share it or write about it.
If you are LGBTQIA? Contact your local LGBTQIA organisation(s) and ask them to publicise this and kick up a fuss. We’re a community. We fight for each other, right? This is a time to help out.
Share this post, and my earlier post on the topic. Tweet them both to Air Transat and let them know exactly how you feel about it. Share this widely and repeatedly. Make sure they know that we will not shut up about this.
The situation is as follows: I am a dual citizen of the Italian Republic and the Republic of Argentina. Today, Air Transat has denied me boarding a flight bound to Toronto, Canada from Glasgow, Scotland.
I am a transgender woman. My Italian documentation was made before transition and uses the first name “Ariel”, shows an older photo, and a gender marker “M”. However, I have used it consistently to travel for the last 8 years, both within Europe, to the United States, and to South America, with no issue. This is the first time I have been denied boarding a flight.
I travel with supporting documentation because I have been questioned about my passport photo before. This documentation includes my Argentinean passport with the correct gender (and a recent photo), and a notarized sworn affidavit with a legalized translation. This affidavit is a binding document of the Argentine Republic declaring my change of name from Ariel to Ari Bianca, and declaring my change of gender.
When asked for documentation, I provided all three documents (two passports and affidavit) to an Air Transat representative. They spoke to a representative of the Canadian High Commission in the United Kingdom and told me that I can only travel on my Argentinean passport, but I wouldn’t be travelling today as I didn’t have a visa. I did not apply for a visa because it was not needed with my Italian passport.
The Air Transat representative called “Emma”, refused to give me her last name but phoned the High commission representative for me. The High Commission representative kindly explained this was a decision made by the airline at their discretion. In other words Air Transat made the decision to deny my flight, today, despite my carrying two legal documents, simply because I don’t look the same way as I did 8 years ago, before I began taking hormones.
I have not managed to obtain a new Italian passport yet due to the complex nature of gender recognition procedures through Italian bureaucracy. However, this decision is probably illegal under anti-discrimination UK law; it refuses to accept my valid Italian documentation, maybe breaking Canada-Italy travel treaties; and it fails to recognise my Argentinean sworn affidavit and its connection to my Italian passport as valid.
All because of a simple photo. A photo which, when provided with supporting documents, has never caused any airlines (Ryanair, American Airlines, British Airways, EasyJet, to name a few) from ever preventing me from boarding a flight.
I have contacted Air Transat on Twitter. After a four hour wait, they responded with a different story. In their new version of events the issue wasn’t my passport photo, but rather that since I’m Argentinean, I need a visa for Canada anyway, ignoring my valid Italian passport which entitles me to visa-free travel.
I believe Air Transat have changed their sorry to cover up the discrimination issue.
Let’s be clear about what happened here:
AB is an Italian citizen. As such, she is entitled to travel to Canada without a visa.
AB holds a valid Italian passport.
She also has an Argentinian passport. This one has a different gender marker to her Italian documents because bureaucracy is a massive, complicated pain.
She has documents confirming that she is who she says she is. Three of them.
She doesn’t look like she did eight years ago.
Despite her being AN ITALIAN CITIZEN WITH A VALID PASSPORT WHO IS ENTITLED TO TRAVEL TO CANADA WITHOUT A VISA, Air Transat refused her permission to board.
Air Transat refused her permission to board because she doesn’t look the way she did eight years ago and has a different gender marker. Despite her having all the necessary documentation showing that she is trans and confirming her identity.
This is a clear case of transphobic discrimination against AB.
It gets worse.
Here is what, in my view, Air Transat should have done, once the company discovered what its agents had done:
Made immediate arrangements to ensure AB’s comfort and well-being. Airports have paid lounges. Nice ones. Gotten her access to there, straight away.
Apologised again for good measure.
Made immediate arrangements with her to get her and her partner on the next flight or set of flights to her destination. She has an event to get to.
Compensated her for the considerable distress they caused her.
Update company policies and get all customer-facing staff trained in basic courtesy towards their trans passengers as soon as possible.
Issue another apology, public this time, indicating everything they’ve done to prevent this from happening again.
That was not what happened. Instead? They left her waiting in the airport for hours on end. During this time they claimed multiple times on social media that they had been communicating with her. This text was sent to multiple people:
@jeflew Hi Jeff, We’ve been messaging with AB Silvera. We’re looking into the matter. Rest assured our policy is never to discriminate. JC
This wasn’t “messaging”. This was a single message which gave no information and then leaving them to sit in the airport for hours on end with no indication about what was going on. After seven hours of this, AB and Eilis went home. Luckily for them, AB’s home was close enough that this was possible. However, this could just as easily have happened if they were taking a flight that didn’t leave from her home city.
What happened next? Lies.
Here is what Air Transat claim: that this wasn’t about AB’s transness. No- it was about her Argentinianness:
This is, by the way, a lie.
Either that, or Air Transat- an airline who run regular transatlantic flights- are unaware of how visas, citizenship and passports work. In their world, if someone has dual citizenship then they’re only entitled to rights if both of the countries they’re citizens of grant them. I’m not sure why they think people bother getting dual citizenship at all in that case- since if you need two countries to grant you a right, you’d lose out straight away wherever you go.
Fortunately for the world, that’s not how it works. If you’re a citizen of two countries then you get the rights, privileges and responsibilities that come with both. If you have two passports, you get to decide which to fly with.
Because this is what Air Transat are trying to do: in order to get out of admitting that they made a massive, transphobic screw-up, they’re denying AB’s Italian citizenship. They’re pretending that it doesn’t exist, and that she wasn’t there with a valid Italian passport.
They’re also, by the way, misspelling both her name and her title. Impressive, when you consider that AB Silvera has been tagged in a few dozen tweets filling up their inbox, and that as she’s travelling with her girlfriend (who she’s not married to) it’s reasonable to expect that she’s a Ms, not a Mrs. I’m not mentioning that for petty reasons, by the way. I think that it’s a very visible sign of the abject lack of seriousness and respect that they’re giving to this situation. And the abject lack of dignity that they’ve shown towards AB.
Air Transat are trying to make it seem like this isn’t about transphobia. Like this isn’t about transphobia:
Air Transat took issue with AB’s transness. They refused to let her fly because she is trans and because her documentation made that clear.
They told her that she should pretend to be a man in order to get on the plane in future, explicitly denying her gender.
They are now trying to make people believe that this is because she didn’t have a visa that she doesn’t have to have.
And now? Let’s add some extra insults to an already-hemorrhaging injury, shall we? Because at the end of that, after leaving AB and Eilis to sit in an airport for seven hours with no information on what they were doing? Here’s what Air Transat are going to do:
Thx everyone for support& passion. I’m going to relax at home with @dirtycitybird Air Transat will call on Monday, 2 days late, but yeah
AB and Eilis should have flown out on Saturday afternoon. They have a wedding to attend on the other side of that flight. Air Transat care so little about this that they’re not even bothering to phone them until Monday. Assuming they do that.
Here’s where I’m going to ask you to do something: don’t let them get away with this. Please. Please tell people about this. Tweet @AirTransat and let them know that they can’t do this and sweep it under the carpet- and please keep it firm but civil. If you have a bigger platform or know someone who does? Tell them about this. Use them. Air Transat want to make this go away. Don’t let them.
Note: I have published an update on this topic which clarifies some issues which were unclear and also has some current information on the situation. Please read it before commenting here! Thank you.
This week has been bloody awful, hasn’t it? Fifty Latinx LGBTQIA people were gunned down in Orlando last Sunday. That wasn’t even the first mass shooting in a gay bar this month. Yesterday lunchtime UK Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by a far-rightwing extremist as she walked out of a library. I’ve walked around all of this week with what felt like a rock sitting in my guts, full of a sadness and fear that just wouldn’t lift. In short, it’s bloody sucked this week, hasn’t it? Which, my lovelies, is where the Irish football fans come in. They’re like a sparkling, off-key ray of (let’s admit it, somewhat inebriated) light in a world gone grey.
A bit of background: There’s a football (fine, Americans: soccer) championship on at the moment here in Europe- the Euros. Some fans (I’m lookin’ at you, England. I’m lookin’ at you and I have my Disapproving Teacher Face on ’cause you are not making yourselves look good) have been rampaging through France being terrible– getting themselves arrested, being horrible to children, the lot.
Y’know who’s not being awful? The Irish. If the English are behaving like Slytherin fans (and not even awesome Slytherins), the Irish are basically Griffinpuffs. Huffledors. Good humoured, helpful and FABULOUS.
I mean, they’re helping people change their flat tyres:
And while some other fans we could mention have been starting fights with other teams supporters, our lot had.. a different idea:
Remember a couple of weeks ago, I posted about how I have this new job that has me working all-day-every-day for a few weeks at a time and then off for another few weeks?
I’m off again!
This time I’ll be off working for two weeks, so I might be quieter than usual for the next two and a half weeks or so. I’ll need a couple of days to decompress once I’m done.
I do hope to publish some posts during the fortnight, but I can’t guarantee anything. If you’ve left a comment on a post and it’s gotten stuck in spam or mod, please be patient with me as I won’t be able to check here as regularly as usual.
If you want to keep up with me or get in touch or bring something to my attention, my Facebook page is the place to go. But you know that already, cause you’ve already liked and followed me there. Haven’t you? Of course you have.
Thanks for bearing with me while I’m less around than usual!
Oh and before I go, one thing: I’m sure I’m not the only one who works a job where I end up spending weeks on end staying in hotels all over the place. Aside from too much Netflix (OITNB, I’m lookin’ at you..) how do you keep yourself amused on your off hours?
I’m not American. There’s a lot of things I don’t really get about American culture- and, if I’m entirely honest, I’m not always interested in finding them out. Not because I’ve anything specifically against Americans as people. It’s simply that I get tired of the USian hegemony over my part of the world, culturally as well as economically, and I want to move my attention to someone else. I know more about some aspects of the US than I do about my own country. That bothers me.
I went to Pantibar. It was packed. I found a seat. Got a goddamn drink. We raised our glasses: to calling out homophobia wherever we see it. Then we raised them again: to being us. To being as unapologetically queer as we can.
This is important.
Two days before, a man had walked into one of the Orlando Latinx LGBTQIA community’s most necessary spaces. He’d walked into a space where people who have been told that they’re nothing from so many angles go to celebrate one another. And he gave his life to destroy that space.
Except he wasn’t just a man, was he? And it wasn’t just a bar. Muslim, gay, American: a Muslim man walks into a gay bar in America, and everyone knows how it ended. The Orlando Shooting, we call it, before the sun has risen.
Grief means so many things when it’s public. It’s never simple.
There’s the first response, almost a routine: oh no, not again. There’s always the panicked worry- nobody I know, is it? And then details filter through, little grains of information that lodge inside us, growing larger and larger, getting covered with all the layers of our own assumptions and preconceptions until I’m not sure we could see those tiny truths if we tried.
And some of us want to say- no- what about the thousands of other Muslim men in gay bars in America that night? And some of us want to say that we knew it would happen, that it was only a matter of time before some fundie with a gun took a break from abortion clinics and shot up the queers. Some of us want to shout that yes, homophobia is everywhere in their Muslim communities. More of us want to shout that no, you will not use homophobia to excuse your hatred of Muslims. Others will talk about how exclusion itself is to blame, turning one isolated kid against another, shutting us off from one another from the beginning. Still others went hoarse years ago, exhausted from saying over and over and over and over again that it’s guns, it’s always guns. More wonder how many people have drowned in the sea this week alone, and then we hate ourselves because we only wonder about people drowning in the sea when other people in the West are killed by someone whose name sounds a lot like theirs did.
Are you tired of me yammering on about relationship abuse yet? I am.
Here’s something I see people saying a lot: that can’t know what happened within a relationship, so it’s best not to take sides if someone accuses someone else of abusing them. They say we should wait until we know more before making our decisions. These people think that they’re taking a middle-ground, and that they’re being far fairer than those of us who decide from the beginning who we’d prefer to believe.
Let’s break this one down.
Alex and Bob are in a relationship. Or: Alex and Bob are friends, acquaintances, or workmates. One day, Alex accuses Bob of one of the following: domestic violence, sexual harassment, relationship abuse or rape. The response is as it almost always is: Bob denies having done anything, and Alex’s character is called into question.